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Mount Vernon Mayor Vehemently Denies He Violated State Education Laws

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas. Photo Credit: Contributed

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas called allegations that he collected more than $100,000 while serving as a trustee at a city charter school “factually wrong, grossly negligent and morally bankrupt,” in a statement released late on Thursday afternoon.

The Mount Vernon Board of Ethics levied a claim against Thomas this week, stating that he collected more than $100,000 as a trustee at Amani Public Charter School - where he has served since 2011 - which would be in violation of New York State education laws, which state that trustees cannot be compensated for their work.

In response to the claims, Thomas issued a statement saying that “it  is hard to imagine a report that could be more wrong, more grossly negligent and more morally bankrupt.”

“The claims made against me are as unfounded as they are preposterous. I can say, unequivocally, that I have never accepted a dollar of pay from the Amani Public Charter School as payment for any of my role as a Board member, which was properly documented in my ethical filings. Where a resolution came before the city, I have recused myself in accordance with all city ethical requirements,” he stated.

“In fact, the money in question was not given to me but to the school by the city’s Youth Bureau, for after-school programs, a practice that dates to 2013. What kind of so-called Ethics Board, makes such an egregious mistake and then compounds by it by breaching its confidential duty by leaking multiple falsehoods, falsehoods that had been legally addressed by my counsel prior to completion of the report.”

Thomas said that “it is time for the City Council to finally fund the city’s post of Inspector General, so that the needed reviews of city practices are in fact guided by ethics and professionalism.”

In addition to his strongly worded statement, Thomas also released contract details between the City of Mount Vernon and Amani Public Charter School, as well as an attorney’s response to the Board of Ethics that was issued last month.

“I am dismayed by the willingness of the Board of Ethics to weaponize their appointments for political gain and turn an institution whose role is to preserve the integrity of the government into a ‘kangaroo court,’” Thomas added. “Shame on Chairman Lucio, and the entirety of the Board, for abusing their authority and making a mockery of the very office they’ve been appointed to.”

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